Multimedia: The Plight of the Middle Class

On NPR, economic thinkers debate low wages, unemployment and options for restoring America’s middle class.

On her radio show this week, NPR’s Diane Rehm hosted Annie Lowrey of The New York Times, Brookings’ David Wessel, the Economic Policy Institute’s Jeff Faux and Stephen Moore from The Heritage Foundation take on the following debate:

The U.S. middle class is no longer the world’s richest. Recent analysis shows that while wealthy Americans still outpace their peers in other advanced countries, our middle class is falling behind. That news comes at a time when nearly 40 percent of our nation’s unemployed have been out of work for six months or more. And a federal minimum wage law — which many say would indirectly benefit higher wage earners — has stalled. Some economists believe once the U.S. economy takes off again, the middle class will make a recovery. But others are not as optimistic. Diane and her guests discuss the plight of the middle class in a post-recession job market.

In their hour–long discussion, the group touched on several themes in the ongoing job market conversation: possible effects of raising the minimum wage and its relationship with government programs such as the earned income tax credit; US wealth in comparison to Canada and China; measuring the actual economy, and much more.

Here’s the link to the audio player.

For further reading on the middle class, check out the National Journal’s article on economic security.


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